After going into previous major outdoor championships as an underdog, Katarina Johnson-Thompson is one of the favourites in Beijing

“I never feel pressure really, but this is probably the most I’ve ever had,” says current AW cover star Katarina Johnson-Thompson on the eve of the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

Though she has competed in competitions of this magnitude before – not least at the London 2012 Olympics – for the first time outdoors, the heptathlete is considered a contender to win gold.

“The last couple of years I’ve just been in here for the experience rather than having to achieve big results,” says the 22-year-old, who finished a higher-than-expected fifth at the 2013 Worlds.

But now she’s targeting the top despite a couple of injury setbacks earlier this season.

“The training is definitely going well and I can see myself progressing each week, but it’s quite nerve-racking going into a major competition not knowing what shape you’re in.”

“I never feel pressure really, but this is probably the most I’ve ever had”

The two-day heptathlon event, which starts with the 100m hurdles on Saturday, is Johnson-Thompson’s first competition outside of Europe and the Liverpool Harrier, who is also set to contest the long jump in Beijing, stands on the brink of achieving something special.

“Given my preparation in the past three months I have tried to put my expectations a bit lower,” she says. “But it still doesn’t mean I am not going for gold. That’s what I have wanted from the start of the year so that’s what I am going to aim to get.

“At the moment I think Brianne (Theisen-Eaton) is probably the favourite to win,” she adds. “She’s been the most consistent over the last couple of months. She won in Gotzis, so I think she’ll have the most pressure coming into this competition and I’m just there to try and do myself justice.”

» You can read the full five-page feature on current AW cover star Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the August 20 World Championships preview edition of Athletics Weekly magazine, which is available to order here or read digitally here